The NCAA may have reached a new low — if that’s even possible.
After serving five years in the Marines, Steven Rhodes enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University and walked onto the MTSU football team. The 24-year-old freshman made the team, playing both tight end and defensive end during the preseason. But now, with the Blue Raiders’ first game a little over a week away, the NCAA is telling Rhodes he won’t be able to play this season, according to the Daily News Journal.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes said. “I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For [the NCAA] to say, ‘No, you can’t play right now,’ I just don’t understand the logic in that.”
The NCAA is forcing Rhodes to take a mandatory redshirt season, because he played in a military-only recreational football league last year. His participation in the league apparently violates the NCAA’s eligibility clause, even though there was no compensation and Rhodes compared the competition level to something of college intramurals.
“Man, it was like intramurals for us. There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old,” Rhodes said. “The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games.”
Originally, Rhodes was ruled ineligible for two seasons, which would have cost him two seasons of his career, because of his participation in the league. Rhodes and the university successfully appealed that ruling, but the NCAA maintained an immediate redshirt policy for the 2013 seasons. The school is in the process of fighting against that ruling as well. There’s no timetable for that appeal, but hopefully Rhodes will get a final ruling before the season opener against Western Carolina on Aug. 29.
Apparently risking your life to protect this country isn’t enough of a price to play in the NCAA. Maybe Johnny Manziel knows how much it would cost.
Photo via Facebook/Steven Rhodes